This Just In
(1)As Mexico Battles Cartels, The Army Becomes the Law
(2)Poverty Influences Drug Use: Survey
(3)Marijuana Therapy May Shrink Tumours
(4)Public Defender Calls Venues Unconstitutional

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-Drug Decriminalization In Portugal

 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Thu, 2 Apr 2009
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2009 The Washington Post Company
Authors: Steve Fainaru and William Booth, Washington Post Foreign Service

PETATLAN, Mexico -- President Felipe Calderon is rapidly escalating the Mexican army's role in the war against drug traffickers, deploying nearly 50 percent of its combat-ready troops along the U.S.-Mexico border and throughout the country, while retired army officers take command of local police forces and the military supplies civilian authorities with automatic weapons and grenades.

U.S. and Mexican officials describe the drug cartels as a widening narco-insurgency. The four major drug states average a total of 12 murders a day, characterized by ambushes, gun battles, executions and decapitated bodies left by the side of the road. In the villages and cities where the traffickers hold sway, daily life now takes place against a martial backdrop of round-the-clock patrols, pre-dawn raids and roadblocks manned by masked young soldiers.

Calderon's deployment of about 45,000 troops to fight the cartels represents a historic change. Previous administrations relied on Mexico's traditionally weak police agencies to combat the traffickers, who funnel 90 percent of the cocaine that enters the United States. The cartels corrupted local authorities and reached tacit agreements with the national government, limiting the violence while the drugs continued to flow.

After Calderon became president in December 2006, he told Mexicans that the use of the military against the cartels would be limited and brief. But it is now the centerpiece of his anti-narcotics strategy, according to interviews with senior U.S. and Mexican officials and dozens of people on the front lines of the war.

"It can be traumatic to have the army in control of public security, but I am convinced that we don't have a better alternative, even with all the risks that it implies," said Monte Alejandro Rubido, a senior public security official who is overseeing the overhaul of Mexico's police forces.




Pubdate: Thu, 02 Apr 2009
Source: StarPhoenix, The (CN SN)
Copyright: 2009 The StarPhoenix
Bookmark: (Youth)

It's being poor -- not any kind of genetic or cultural tendency -- that leads more aboriginal youth to drink alcohol and smoke marijuana, a new Saskatoon study has found.

The study, to be published today in the journal Paedeatric Child Health, found after statistically eliminating risk factors such as poverty, aboriginal kids were 20 per cent less likely to abuse alcohol than their Caucasian counterparts.

"When we're dealing with government agencies, we tend to walk away from service delivery when we know that things are associated with aboriginal cultural status because we believe that there's some sort of genetic trait that's pre-disposing them to addictions behaviour," said the study's lead author, Mark Lemstra.

Lemstra is the director of research and evaluation for the Saskatoon Tribal Council, which represents seven First Nations in the Saskatoon area. Public health researchers at the Saskatoon Health Region were also involved in the study.

The data comes from surveys distributed to all Saskatoon public and Catholic school students in grades 5 through 8 in 2007. The survey results, which were initially published in June 2007, showed kids who went to schools in poor neighbourhoods were more likely to be bullied, have mental health problems, have a teen pregnancy or a sexually transmitted infection or battle with addictions than the average Saskatoon kid. It also found students in wealthy neighbourhoods fared better than average.




Pubdate: Thu, 02 Apr 2009
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2009 The Ottawa Citizen

( CNS ) The active ingredient in marijuana appears to reduce tumour growth, according to a Spanish study published on Wednesday.

The researchers showed giving THC to mice with cancer decreased tumour growth and killed cells off in a process called autophagy.

"Our findings support that safe, therapeutically efficacious doses of THC may be reached in cancer patients," Complutense University in Madrid reported in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.




Pubdate: Fri, 3 Apr 2009
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2009 The Washington Post Company
Author: Henri E. Cauvin, Washington Post Staff Writer

Defendants in So-Called Problem-Solving Courts Denied Due Process, Official Says

Drug courts, a forum designed to give addicted offenders a second chance, are under attack in Maryland -- and not by prosecutors.

The state's public defender says Maryland's drug courts give judges too much power and defendants too little protection, and yesterday she argued to the state's high court that the tribunals are not constitutional.

Public Defender Nancy S. Forster told the Court of Appeals that judges should not shed impartiality by sitting down with prosecutors, social workers and defense attorneys to try to help a defendant. She argued that judges should not be permitted to send a defendant to jail again and again without a full hearing each time, as she said judges in the drug courts do.

"There is no due process in drug treatment court," she said.





In eight years of editing this newsletter, and following drug policy news closely for a few years before that, I can't recall a week with so many different media voices questioning the drug war, and even firmly calling for its end. The calls from across the world and across the political spectrum. A few samples are included, but there are plenty more to chose from in the MAP archives.

And, yet, in one place where voters have actually called for reform, most measures are being stuck down in court.


Pubdate: Mon, 30 Mar 2009
Source: New York Daily News (NY)
Copyright: 2009 Daily News, L.P.
Author: Stanley Crouch

Blood sacrifice often precedes significant legislative change. We saw blood sacrifice during the Prohibition years when prudish zealots thought that outlawing the sale of liquor would bring an end to drinking and the worst excesses connected to taking a nip or as many as needed to release the demons within. Organized crime killed until the bootleg liquor turf was slippery with fresh blood.

Now, the recent turmoil in Mexico is real proof that we have big trouble on our hands.

The rooms and the places where people are murdered over the sale of drugs continue to underline the fact that billions of dollars in profit create a level of greed so addictive that its coldness is incalculable.

We have seen all of this before in quite bloody detail. Hundreds were murdered, from high government officials to people caught in crossfire when Pablo Escobar ordered entire city blocks blown up in order to defend his monstrous cocaine profits by declaring war on Colombia.

Knowing that, we should now seriously consider the very simplest way to break the back of the international drug trade. It needs to be broken in the same way the back of the bootlegging business was broken.

Need I say what it is? Fine. The only real solution is legalization, which would put a permanent hole in the bucket of illegal dope dealing.


Continued: :


Pubdate: Mon, 30 Mar 2009
Source: Free Press, The (Kinston, NC)
Copyright: 2009 Kinston Free Press

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton received a minor flurry of criticism last week for acknowledging that the United States - or at least some people in the United States - bears some responsibility for the explosion of drug-law-related violence in Mexico that has left more than 7,000 Mexicans dead since January 2008. The trouble is that she doesn't seem to be prepared to follow her comments to anything close to their logical implications. "Clearly what we've been doing has not worked," Clinton told reporters on her plane at the start of a two-day visit to Mexico. "Our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade.

Our inability to prevent weapons from being smuggled across the border to arm these criminals causes the deaths of police, of soldiers and civilians." She added that "neither interdiction [of drugs] nor reducing demand have been successful." Clinton is only partially correct.

It isn't "our" insatiable demand but the demand of a small subset of the population that fuels the drug trade, but it fuels it to the tune of $15 billion to $25 billion a year. And while Mexican drug gangs do smuggle weapons from U.S. gun stores along the border to elude Mexico's strict gun laws, the current issue of Foreign Policy magazine notes that since the beginning of Mexican President Felipe Calderon's decision two years ago to unleash the military against the drug gangs, the gangs' arsenals have come to include: "sea-going submersibles, helicopters and modern transport aviation, automatic weapons, RPG's, Anti-Tank 66 mm rockets, mines and booby traps, heavy machine guns, .50 caliber sniper rifles, massive use of military hand grenades, and the most modern models of 40 mm grenade machine guns."

Clearly, these weapons are not coming from a few rogue gun shops in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. With the vast profits that prohibition makes possible, the Mexican drug gangs are tapping into the international black market in military weaponry.

Inspecting a few more vehicles crossing into Mexico won't stop that trade.

President Obama has said the government will send a few more Border Patrol agents to the 2,000-mile border with Mexico, step up inspection of vehicles going both ways across the border and send another $66 million to the Mexican government. Good luck with that.

Maybe it's time to stop the insanity. The dynamics of efforts at prohibition of substances for which people are willing to pay inflated prices predict precisely the outcomes we are seeing. Those most adept at violence, concealment, bribery and skullduggery are rewarded with enormous sums of money, respect for law declines and civil society is ripped apart.




Pubdate: Wed, 01 Apr 2009
Source: Miami Herald (FL)
Copyright: 2009 Miami Herald Media Co.
Author: Leonard Pitts Jr.

I come neither eagerly nor easily to that maybe. Rather, I come by way of spiraling drug violence in Mexico that recently forced Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to acknowledge the role America's insatiable appetite for narcotics plays in the carnage. I come by way of watching Olympian Michael Phelps do the usual public relations song and dance after being outed smoking weed, and knowing the whole thing was a ritualized farce. Most of all, I come by way of personal antipathy: I don't like and have never used illegal drugs.

But yeah, I'm thinking maybe we should legalize them.

Or at the very least, begin the discussion.

I find myself in august -- and unexpected -- company. Ronald Reagan's secretary of state, George Schultz, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, the late Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman and the late conservative icon William F. Buckley Jr. have all said much the same thing.




Pubdate: Fri, 27 Mar 2009
Source: Idaho Mountain Express (ID)
Copyright: 2009 Express Publishing, Inc
Author: Terry Smith

City Still Required To Advocate For Marijuana Reform

A judge's ruling this week took the teeth out of two controversial marijuana initiatives that were approved by Hailey voters, but left intact a requirement that the city advocate for reform of marijuana and industrial hemp laws.

Blaine County 5th District Court Judge Robert J. Elgee, in a decision filed Tuesday, voided portions of the initiatives that would have legalized medical marijuana use in the city and would have made enforcement of marijuana laws the lowest priority for Hailey police. The judge also voided language in the initiatives that would have required individual city officials to advocate for marijuana reform.

However, provisions of the initiatives that require the city as an entity to advocate for marijuana reform were left intact, as were provisions that require the city to establish community committees regarding marijuana and hemp issues.

Hailey voters approved three marijuana and industrial hemp initiatives in 2007 and again in 2008. The initiatives were titled the Hailey Medical Marijuana Act, the Hailey Lowest Police Priority Act and the Hailey Industrial Hemp Act.




Continuing on a theme from the policy section above, many are questioning the aggressive use of law enforcement and prison as solutions to drug problems, even a sheriff in New York. The incompetence of the drug war was on display in Canada this week, as a new report uncovers problems with the disposal of drugs confiscated at the border. At the Mexican border, kids are finding more work as drug smugglers; and in Iowa, watch out for the state's Department of Transportation police. They don't need no stinking badges.


Pubdate: Mon, 30 Mar 2009
Source: Tomah Journal, The (WI)
Copyright: 2009 The Tomah Journal

Here's a question to those who gathered in Sparta last week to criticize Gov. Jim Doyle's public safety budget:

Why does the United States, with just 5 percent of the world's population, house 25 percent of the world's prisoners?

Led by Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, several public officials blasted Doyle's budget, which calls for the early release of non-violent prisoners and cutting back on supervision and parole. They levelled the criticism despite a huge state budget deficit and a corrections budget already grown at a staggering pace. Consider that:

* In 1996, Wisconsin spent $360 million corrections. It was $1 billion in 2008.

* In 1982, one out of every 437 Wisconsin residents was in jail or prison. In 2007, it was one out of 109.

Wisconsin, of course, isn't alone in its appetite to throw people in prison and keep them there for a long time. The United States incarcerates more people per capita than any nation in the world, but it's not anywhere near the safest nation in the world. America, for example, has the world's 24th highest homicide rate. That's higher than every country in Western Europe, which imprisons a much smaller percentage of its people.




Pubdate: Wed, 01 Apr 2009
Source: Watertown Daily Times (NY)
Copyright: 2009 Watertown Daily Times
Author: David Shampine, Staff Writer

While the sheriffs of Oswego and St. Lawrence counties are calling upon state Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine, D-Cape Vincent, to "just say no" to weakening the so-called Rockefeller drug laws, their counterpart in Jefferson County says the current mood in Albany "is a step in the right direction."

Oswego County Sheriff Reuel A. Todd and St. Lawrence County Sheriff Kevin M. Wells released a joint statement Monday asserting that reducing current penalties "for major drug dealers" will result only in sending "a dangerous message to drug dealers, users and young people."

Their comments do not accurately reflect the proposed legislation, however. The agreement as announced in Albany would repeal mandatory minimum prison sentences for "lower-level drug felons."




Pubdate: Mon, 30 Mar 2009
Source: Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB)
Copyright: 2009 Winnipeg Free Press
Author: Dean Beeby, Canadian Press

OTTAWA -- Illegal drugs seized at the border -- including hash, methadone and steroids -- are winding up in landfills because Canada's border guards don't know they're supposed to be destroyed.

That's among the findings of a scathing report into sloppy security at government warehouses, where some $400 million of seized contraband is sent each year by the Canada Border Services Agency.

"Security and access control to storage facilities were below standard and storage requirements for drugs, firearms and ammunition were not consistently met," says the internal audit.

"Inventory control was inadequate."

Investigators examined supposedly secure facilities -- known as Queen's warehouses or bond rooms -- in the province of Quebec, and in the Toronto and Windsor, Ont., regions, where many of the 30,000 border seizures each year are made. More than half of all seizures are drugs, alcohol and tobacco. The rest includes child pornography, firearms, ammunition and jewelry. The report notes that seized items are rarely suitable for sale on the government's online auction site, creating a continuing storage and disposal challenge.




Pubdate: Mon, 30 Mar 2009
Source: El Paso Times (TX)
Copyright: 2009 El Paso Times
Author: Daniel Borunda

EL PASO -- More juvenile drug smugglers have been arrested in March on the El Paso border than in the last two months combined, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said.

There have been 17 accused smugglers age 17 and younger arrested in March compared with five in February and seven in January, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials.

"The rising number of children we are catching smuggling drugs should serve as a wake-up call to parents in our community," said Ana Hinojosa, Customs director of field operations in El Paso.

"Parents should have the 'drug talk' with their teens now if they haven't done so already because the consequences of involvement in this activity are serious," Hinojosa said in a statement.

Customs spokesman Roger Maier said the spike this year is significant because officers were seeing only about two to four juvenile smuggling cases per month last year.




Pubdate: Wed, 01 Apr 2009
Source: Hawk Eye, The (Burlington, IA)
Copyright: 2009 The Hawk Eye
Author: John Mangalonzo

F.M. residents file complaint about IDOT stop.

FORT MADISON -- Carl and Jane Schneider thought their trip home to Fort Madison from a two-week vacation would be pleasant. Then they would relax in their living room and talk about the fun time they had driving in their recreational vehicle and look at pictures they took.

They were wrong.

Carl, 66, who operated Blue Grass Dairy for many years and whose family has lived for four generations in town, and Jane, 59, said instead they had to deal with an afterthought of being treated like criminals during what they described as an unnecessary and "scary" traffic stop.

It was 8 p.m., Friday, when the couple said the horrifying experience unfolded. They were a few miles from home when Iowa Department of Transportation officer Darrell D. Wiegand pulled them over.

According to IDOT files, Wiegand had been a correctional officer in Oakdale before becoming a motor vehicle officer in 1994. A local phone listing for him could not be found, and all questions about the stop have been directed to IDOT officials in Des Moines.

"The officer did not ask for Carl's license or registration or insurance, instead he said he just wanted to know what the odd-looking trailer we were pulling was used for," Jane Schneider said. "Carl replied that it was for a gyrocopter and he and the officer chatted for a couple of minutes during which Carl explained to him we lived north of town and were returning home after a trip."

Wiegand, the couple said, asked them to stand in front of their RV and allegedly started interrogating them, asking, "What's that I smell? What's that smell?"




Some legislators in Connecticut have come to the conclusion that it is more fiscally prudent to relieve cannabis consumers of some of their money than deprive them of their freedom.

Michigan is set to implement medicinal cannabis regulations overwhelmingly approved by voters last fall.

Lawmakers in Pennsylvania are looking closely at the potential costs and benefits of legalizing cannabis for medicinal purposes.

Medicinal cannabis dispensaries are exhaling a sigh of relief following pronouncements from the Obama administration that they will tolerate those that comply with state laws and regulations.


Pubdate: Wed, 01 Apr 2009
Source: Hartford Courant (CT)
Copyright: 2009 The Hartford Courant
Author: Christopher Keating

On a groundbreaking vote, the legislature's judiciary committee decided Tuesday night to decriminalize marijuana possession for adults 18 and older who have less than half an ounce of the drug.

Under a compromise, the marijuana laws would not change for anyone under 18, and the amount that would be decriminalized was reduced from less than 1 ounce to less than half an ounce. The possession of small amounts would no longer be a crime and would instead be an infraction with a maximum fine of $250 that could be paid like a speeding ticket.

Some Democratic legislators, including Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney of New Haven, have been pushing hard this year for decriminalization, saying that doing so could save the state more than $11 million in law enforcement costs annually because far fewer people would be sent to state Superior Court to be overseen by prosecutors and probation officials. If marijuana users were issued a ticket that could be paid by mail, they would no longer need to go to court.

The bill passed 24-14 in the Democratic-dominated committee, and the highest-ranking Republican who voted for the measure was deputy House Republican leader William Hamzy of Plymouth.

Despite the positive vote Tuesday night, the bill still faces an uphill battle as Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell opposes the decriminalization. Rell vetoed a bill two years ago that would have allowed the use of marijuana for medical purposes to relieve pain.

"Whether it's little or a lot, it is an illegal substance, and the governor does not support the bill," Rell's spokesman, Christopher Cooper, said Tuesday night after the vote.




Pubdate: Wed, 1 Apr 2009
Source: Detroit News (MI)
Copyright: 2009 The Detroit News
Author: Charlie Cain, Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Up to 50,000 May Qualify for Legal Smoking

Lynn Allen is busy squirreling away marijuana seeds - at $5 a shot - as he prepares to take advantage of a new state law that will allow seriously or terminally ill patients to legally smoke pot to ease their pain and suffering.

The 52-year-old married father of two from Williamston is confined to a wheelchair and unable to work because of a lack of stamina. He is one of an estimated 50,000 Michigan residents who may qualify for medical marijuana use once the state begins accepting applications on Saturday.

A hemophiliac who contracted HIV/AIDS from blood work, he lives in pain and battles to keep from losing weight because of a lack of appetite.

"I've decided I'm going to grow my own marijuana in my house," said Allen, who was forced to declare bankruptcy last year. "I can't afford to buy marijuana" - which can cost from $200 to $900 an ounce, according to police.

"But I have bought 10 seeds and now I'm waiting for the game to begin."

Michigan voters in November approved medical marijuana use by a 63 percent to 37 percent margin, joining a dozen other states that allow it.

State health officials are finalizing rules and regulations for the Michigan Medical Marijuana Program.




Pubdate: Mon, 30 Mar 2009
Source: Quad, The (West Chester U, PA Edu)
Copyright: 2009 The Quad
Author: David Baker

State Rep. Mark Cohen of Philadelphia announced this week his desire to introduce a bill next month that would legalize medical marijuana in Pennsylvania.

The bill, as explained by Cohen, would be of the same nature as the New Jersey legislation introduced earlier this year, which offers prescriptions of the drug to patients suffering from cancer, multiple sclerosis, and other diseases. New Jersey's governor has stated that he would sign the bill proposed in his state.

Aside from the potential benefits the bill would bring in the medical community, from an economic standpoint, Cohen also saw the bill as a way to increase state revenue.

"I think it can easily raise $25 million a year in taxes."


Pennsylvania is one of three states, including Michigan and New Jersey, that are currently considering legalizing the drug for medical use.

In recent weeks, California legislators have begun discussing and debating a new addition to their existing marijuana laws.

San Francisco Assemblyman Tom Ammiano proposed last month that California legalize and tax marijuana, a major - and still technically illegal - crop in the state, in an attempt to ease some of California's economic strain.

"We're all jonesing now for money," Mr. Ammiano said. "And there's this enormous industry out there."


Lobbyists such as John Lovell, who works on behalf of several California law enforcement officials, says the plan would open the floodgates to a large, uncontrolled and therefore, un-taxed, black market while also increasing substance abuse problems.

"The last thing we need is yet another legal substance that is mind- altering," Lovell said.




Pubdate: Mon, 30 Mar 2009
Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Santa Cruz Sentinel
Author: Howard Mintz

For at least the past six years, one of the fiercest struggles in the federal government's war with the states over medical marijuana has been waged from a nondescript Santa Cruz warehouse, tucked between an auto repair shop and an electrical contractor.

These days, there is unprecedented optimism inside that warehouse, where the feisty Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana appears to be on the brink of outlasting the feds and winning the most important legal fight still left in the courts over California's nearly 13-year- old voter approved medical pot law.

The Obama administration, through new Attorney General Eric Holder, has publicly indicated in recent weeks that it will not enforce federal drug laws against medical marijuana providers in states with medical pot laws, as long as those providers are obeying their state laws. For WAMM's leaders and patients, such a policy shift would not only end their 6-year-old lawsuit, but also an era of raids, uncertainty and near-extinction for an operation that tends to the sick and dying.

The Santa Cruz case also could be the first in the country that forces the new administration to lay out its exact policy on medical pot in writing.

On a recent morning inside WAMM, Valerie and Mike Corral, who cofounded the cooperative in the early 1990s, appeared visibly relieved as they discussed the prospects of the feds finally leaving them alone. As they spoke, the unmistakable, pungent smell of pot wafted through the corridor outside their cramped office.




President Felipe Calderon increased the Mexican military presence in Cuidad Juarez, and this week, the violence decreased somewhat. But folks there don't see a quick end to the violence. "The government is part of the drug dealing. Unless there is a negotiated solution, the violence won't stop." Some predict the violence will resume once troops are gone. "The problem is," asked one analyst, "what are we going to do when the army leaves?"

The city of Victoria, Canada, may indeed have a drug problem, but undercover officers were unable "to turn up any drugs or arrests at all." On the other hand, there is one drug which does cause "disorder -- people yelling or screaming, arguments, doors being slammed or pushing and shoving", and that drugs is ... alcohol. Alcohol abuse is the biggest problem Victoria police have on their hands downtown, Victoria's new Chief of Police Jamie Graham said last week.

And finally this week, we leave you with two columns appearing in two Canadian papers this week, both calling for an end to drug prohibition. The first, by Terry Field in the Calgary Herald newspaper, has advice for the watchdog media: "news organizations need come up with more sophisticated questions to ask of decision-makers... what alternatives to waging this war might exist?" The "former Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo suggested in late February that perhaps it might be smarter to legalize the use of marijuana," but was dismissed by prohibitionists. Legalize drugs, says Field, and "we could save billions of dollars, countless lives, make money taxing it, and using what we earn to educate the public and treat addicts."

And in the National Post this week, Jonathan Kay argues prohibition makes criminals rich and, "the problem should be treated the same way that we treat other self-inflicted, self-destructive behavioural pathologies" (with doctors; not with jails and coercion).


Pubdate: Thu, 2 Apr 2009
Source: Dallas Morning News (TX)
Copyright: 2009 The Dallas Morning News, Inc.
Author: Laurence Iliff, The Dallas Morning News

CUIDAD JUAREZ, Mexico - The military surge in this Texas-Mexico border city, now crowded with trucks carrying stone-faced young men wielding assault rifles, does not scare Ana, a middle-aged airport worker.

Ana, who asked not to be further identified in a city where contract killings go for as little as $100, prefers the thousands of young men in dark camouflage to the drug thugs, muggers and rapists who killed 1,600 people in Juarez last year.


A local hotel worker, 42, put it more bluntly: "The government is part of the drug dealing. Unless there is a negotiated solution, the violence won't stop."

President Calderon has said he will never negotiate with drug criminals and has denied any official ties to the cartels.


The local drug distributors - teenagers, mostly - know that they cannot take on the military so now they are lying low, Quijano said, and the cartel operators "are probably off on vacation in Acapulco."

Given the broad base of drug users, the gangs will probably outlast the military over time, he suggested.

At an estimated cost of $250,000 a week to maintain the soldiers and police, a cost shared by the federal and city governments, time and money may be running out, he said.

"The money they are spending is money that is not being spent to pave the streets, and that can be maintained for a while, but not forever," said Quijano. "It's like a fire that I'm trying to put out on my own, but it just keeps getting bigger, so I call for help. The problem is, what are we going to do when the army leaves?"



Pubdate: Wed, 01 Apr 2009
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 Times Colonist

Many Victoria residents were likely surprised to read police Chief Jamie Graham's comment that this city's illegal drug trade is not nearly the problem it is perceived to be.

Alcohol abuse is far and away the largest problem city police deal with, Graham told a meeting of downtown residents this week.

That statement not only turns popular thinking on its ear -- that illegal drug addicts among the homeless population create a significant amount of downtown mayhem -- but exposes a harsher reality.

The people causing the most trouble downtown aren't necessarily the mentally ill or addicted.


Chances are it's young, middle-class males, fuelled by a night of alcohol consumption.

"Many of the issues our officers are sent to, they act almost as referees," Graham said, adding the most common calls city police respond to are reports of alcohol-related disorder -- people yelling or screaming, arguments, doors being slammed or pushing and shoving.

By comparison, a recently completed undercover operation in Victoria was hard-pressed to turn up any drugs or arrests at all. Over the course of two weeks, police made only about a dozen arrests, and undercover officers reported surprise at how difficult it was to buy illegal drugs.


The next time you read about a violent incident downtown, don't fall into the trap of assuming the problems are exclusive to "them."

Sometimes, as Walt Kelly once wrote, the enemy is us.



Pubdate: Tue, 31 Mar 2009
Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2009 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Terry Field

By now the majority of Calgarians will have heard of the daily fighting between drug cartels and authorities in Northern Mexican cities that dot the border with the United States. The devastating context of this protracted 'war' has been slow to reach us here, largely because the news media has been slow to see the story as something other than a Mexican story.


In truth, the drug trade causes havoc in every western nation, not just Mexico, and our sense of Mexico as a lawless, corrupt place where these kinds of things happen routinely, is to miss the point entirely.


That was 1982. Now, 27 years later, we are no closer to eradicating drug use than we were then. In fact, by most measures the problem is worse. The only thing this policy has succeeded in doing is wasting untold billions in enforcement and encouraging the enemy to defend itself.

Every war needs an enemy, and in this case the enemy has grown from a series of modestly scaled country-specific gangs into large-scale, wealthy, well-armed and well-connected international organizations.

Just last week, U. S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said U. S. policy on drugs has been a failure and Mexico is paying too steep a price for the war on drugs, especially considering that the U. S. is the main market.

She then went on to say that the answer is to escalate and get more money promised during the Bush years into Mexican hands to support their battle with the cartels.


I wouldn't presume to have the ultimate answer to this issue, but I would suggest that news organizations need come up with more sophisticated questions to ask of decision-makers. Starting with a simple one: what alternatives to waging this war might exist? When former Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo suggested in late February that perhaps it might be smarter to legalize the use of marijuana the idea was immediately dismissed by the current Mexican government, and some U. S. lawmakers.

Zedillo was floating that idea as an example of alternative action following release of a report he co-authored on the bigger problem.

"If we insist only on a strategy of the criminal pursuit of those who traffic in drugs," Zedillo has said, "the problem will never be resolved."

Maybe he has a point.

Arguably, if drug production and use was made legal, we could save billions of dollars, countless lives, make money taxing it, and using what we earn to educate the public and treat addicts.




Pubdate: Tue, 31 Mar 2009
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2009 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Jonathan Kay


I realize that this is a stale theme. (One of these days, someone is going to hand me or Colby Cosh or Dan Gardner a plaque for writing the millionth op-ed urging an end to the drug war.) But recent events may give Western governments reason to act. American states are going bankrupt, and one of the main reasons is a jail system bursting with drug offenders. Meanwhile, our soldiers are fighting, and dying, in a struggle against a Taliban force whose primary income stream derives from OECD drug addicts.

Not for a moment do I dispute that hard drugs ruin lives, or that eradicating their usage should be an objective of government. But the problem should be treated the same way that we treat other self- inflicted, self-destructive behavioural pathologies: through the health system and social-assistance programs.

Sometimes, it takes a crisis to give common sense its moment. Thanks to a global recession, a poppy-financed Afghan enemy and a NAFTA partner descending into anarchy, that moment may finally be upon us.


 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


Government Grown is a new short documentary about the Hemp For Victory program that includes interviews with participating farmers.


By Steven Wishnia

Let's hope the changes mark the beginning of the end of New York's Rockefeller drug laws.


By Maia Szalavitz


By Tony Newman

The allegations about Ashley Biden offer her father a chance to join the millions who challenge the irrationality of our drug laws.


By Russ Belville, NORML Outreach Coordinator

SAMHSA have released the results of their 2007 Treatment Episode Data Set, or TEDS, showing the National Admissions to Substance Abuse Treatment Services. Let's take a look at the statistics for marijuana, shall we?


The Brian Lehrer Radio Show

If the underground pot economy comes into the light, can it really have an impact? Ethan Nadelmann, the founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance Network, makes the case for legalization.


Century of Lies - 03/29/09 - David Duncan

Dr. David Duncan, professor emeritus at Brown University details the contaminants contained in recreational drugs.

Cultural Baggage Radio Show - 04/01/09 - Cliff Schaffer

Cliff Schaffer, founder of and discusses how we steer the discussion on how to end the drug war.


Please take a few minutes to watch this excellent short film produced by Witness for Peace, that considers the human and environmental costs of the disastrous ongoing efforts to eradicate coca production in Colombia using aerial fumigation.


Policy Forum, Friday, April 3, 2009

In 2001, Portugal began a remarkable policy experiment, decriminalizing all drugs, including cocaine and heroin. Some predicted disastrous results-that drug addiction rates would soar and the country would become a haven for "drug tourists." Now that several years have passed, policy experts can study the results.

Featuring Glenn Greenwald, Attorney and Best-selling Author; with comments by Peter Reuter, Department of Criminology, University of Maryland; moderated by Tim Lynch, Director, Project on Criminal Justice, Cato Institute.

The report can be downloaded for free here:



The Drug Policy Alliance has an immediate opening for an Executive Associate, working directly with the Executive Director.

STOP BILL C-15!  ( Top )

C-15, an Act to amend the Canadian Controlled Drugs and Substances Act

This enactment would amend the CDSA to provide for minimum penalties for "serious" drug offences and increase the maximum penalty for cannabis (marihuana) production.



By Bruce Symington

The tragedy of the two young girls in a coma or dead due to taking unknown street drugs is yet another foreseeable, predictable consequence of the prohibition on drugs. You doubt that statement? Let us compare to the 'other' prohibition of last millennium: alcohol. When alcohol was prohibited, gangsters made and sold liquor. The physical harm alone caused by that liquor was extensive, because it was made by amateurs in uncontrolled conditions. Prohibition did not stop drinking, and its repeal did not entirely stop the harm caused by alcohol. But the harm now is much less significant and far more manageable than that caused by prohibition. Likewise, if ecstasy was made by pharmaceutical companies with controlled sales, these girls would not be dead. As a society, it is time for us to grow up and admit that people will do what they want. The only gauge of an approach is whether it leads to more harms or fewer to legalize it. Therefore, prohibition must end.

Bruce Symington

( It's an abject reality some simply don't want to accept. )

Pubdate: Sat, 28 Mar 2009
Source: Edmonton Sun (CN AB)
Note: Parenthetical remark by the Sun editor, headline by newshawk.



By Clarence Page

For all of the keen intellect that President Barack Obama showed in his online town hall meeting, he didn't seem to know much about reefer economics.

When asked whether legalizing marijuana might be a stimulus for the economy and job creation, he played the question for laughs.

"I don't know what this says about the online audience . . .," he quipped as his studio audience chuckled and groaned. "But . . . this was a fairly popular question. We want to make sure that it was answered," he said.

Sure. So you could knock it, I thought.

Obama's response: "The answer is, no, I don't think that is a good strategy to grow our economy."

No stimulus? Hey, more than a few blinged-out, Escalade-driving pot dealers would dispute that notion. You want a "green" industry? Free the weed, dude.

Such is the call of pro-pot politicians like California Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, who has proposed to legalize the weed, tax it and regulate it like booze. He estimates the move would generate $1 billion in revenue for the state's troubled budget and save $150 million in enforcement costs.

It's hard to argue with Ammiano's logic, but it's easy to make light of lighting up. Marijuana is, after all, funny. Few subjects inspire more bad puns from headline writers than those that, well, step on grass. A quick sample:

"Obama: Nope to dope." ( Russia Today )

"Obama's marijuana buzz kill." ( The Daily Beast online )

"Marijuana issue suddenly smoking hot." ( Politico )

Like sex and sobriety, marijuana is funny because it is surrounded by so much hypocrisy. So is politics.

To listen to Obama's chortles, for example, you'd never guess that he is our third president in a row to have admitted to using marijuana back in his years of youthful indiscretion.

Bill Clinton says he tried it but "didn't inhale." Oh, sure. George W. Bush admitted to early pot use in a taped interview with a friend, but refuses to discuss it in public. Obama described his own teen drug use in poignant detail in his first memoir, but like countless other Baby Boomer dads he now shies shyly away from the subject.

Yet, you would not guess from his snarky town-hall attitude that only a week earlier his attorney general, Eric Holder, announced that the federal Drug Enforcement Administration would stop raiding and arresting users or dispensers of medicinal marijuana unless they violated both state and federal laws.

That means you, California, and a dozen other states that permit marijuana sales and possession for medicinal purposes with a doctor's recommendation.

Holder sensibly announced that DEA resources are too valuable in the war against dangerous drug lords to be raiding residents who otherwise are in compliance with state and local laws and standards. That would reverse the Bush administration's ridiculous scorched-earth pursuit that ignored the right of states to govern themselves in such matters.

Yet, convenient inconsistency is not limited to any one party or administration. A week after Holder's notice-and the same day that Obama laughed off the notion of legal reefers-DEA agents raided Emmalyn's California Cannabis Clinic, a licensed medical marijuana collective in San Francisco.

DEA spokesmen claimed Emmalyn's had violated local as well as federal law, but they didn't say how. Local officials said they didn't have a clue what the DEA was talking about.

Not laughing is Charles Lynch, a celebrated cause since his Morro Bay, Calif., medical marijuana dispensary was raided by the DEA in 2007. Two days before Obama's town hall meeting, a federal judge postponed Lynch's sentencing to await clarification of Team Obama's new hands-off approach.

Lynch, who has no criminal record and was welcomed by the local mayor and business community, should be set free. Instead he's in legal limbo, with both sides trying to make him a test case for their competing crusades.

Also not laughing are lawmakers in at least 10 states, including Illinois, who currently are debating whether and how they might join the 13 states where medical marijuana is legal.

If he really cares, Obama could end this reefer madness in much the same way that President Franklin Roosevelt ended the disastrous run of liquor prohibition in 1933. Prohibition had to go. It was too costly to enforce. It demoralized a public already beaten down by the Depression. It wasted a potential tax revenue-producing commodity by intruding unnecessarily into the private lives of otherwise law-abiding Americans. Sounds familiar.

Unlike Roosevelt, Obama does not have to amend the Constitution to end our marijuana confusion. He only has to get out of the way and allow the states to enforce their own drug laws. That's not a laughable notion. It's only sensible.

Clarence Page is a member of the Tribune's editorial board and blogs at

Pubdate: Wed, 01 Apr 2009
Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)
Copyright: 2009 Chicago Tribune Company


"Legalize marijuana and take all that money and invest it in teachers and in education. You will see a transformation in America." -- Carlos Santana

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